Arnold: Addressing Indiana’s illegal drug epidemic

Posted by: Victoria Klimczak  | Thursday, June 15, 2017 10:44 am

Indiana is currently experiencing high levels of illegal drug use, particularly with meth, heroin and unprescribed opioids.  In 2014 alone, there were over 450 deaths related to opioid overdoses in Indiana, while nearly 3,000 Hoosiers had to be hospitalized due to drug use. More Americans die each year from drug overdoses than motor vehicle accidents. New laws take effect this year tackling the drug issue from all directions, including strengthening penalties for those who contribute to the manufacturing and distribution of drugs, preventing opportunities for addiction and providing treatment resources.

In 2015, Indiana led the nation in pharmacy robberies with 175, and between 2013 and 2016, more than 400,000 doses of medication were stolen. Pharmacies are robbed for medications and opioids that can be sold in the illegal drug trade. The number of robberies in our state is unacceptable and needs to be reduced. A new law will promote public safety, help protect pharmacists and combat the trade of drugs in Indiana by increasing the penalties for stealing prescription drugs and using violence to rob a pharmacy.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that in most circumstances, a three-day prescription for opioids is enough for the treatment of pain, and that nearly 2 million people abuse or misuse the drugs every year. Over-prescribing opioids can lead to substance abuse disorders, continuing the addiction crisis. A new law limiting opioid prescriptions to a seven-day supply will assist in curbing addiction in Indiana. Enacting prescribing limits will reduce the amount of available prescription opiates and, in effect, reduce opportunities to misuse the medications.

An addiction to opiate painkillers is often a gateway to heroin use. Heroin tends to be a cheaper and a more obtainable substitute to prescription opioids, leading to an increase in the number of heroin addictions and overdoses throughout the state. A new policy will crack down on criminals who manufacture and deal drugs. The law will impose stricter penalties for meth cooks and heroin dealers in an attempt to further discourage these actions. It will also allow for more reporting of drug-related felonies to a national database and address those who act violently to pregnant women or put children in harm’s way.

Serious drug addictions often require professional treatment in the recovery process. Recovery housing can play an important role in maintaining long-term sobriety following treatment. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that 30-day treatment centers are around 35 percent effective in treating addictions, but when clients are transitioned to some form of aftercare, success rates increase to up to 70 percent. Another new policy will allow local counties to oversee Recovery Residences to ensure that individuals with chronic addiction are living in a safe environment and continuing on the path to recovery.

Taking steps to fight illegal drug use and treat addiction in our state will make Indiana a safer, healthier place for all Hoosiers. Throughout the summer, continue to contact me with any questions or concerns at 317-232-9793 or


State Rep. Lloyd Arnold (R-Leavenworth) represents House District 74,

which includes portions of Spencer, Dubois, Perry, Crawford and Orange counties.

A high-resolution photo of Arnold can be downloaded by clicking here.